STATEWIDE — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he'll order Floridians to limit movement to only "essential services."
The mandate, via executive order, comes amid ongoing pressure that DeSantis issue a statewide stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases continue to grow.
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The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 3 and lasts until April 30 unless there's a subsequent order.
The order defines essential services as industries and businesses listed in the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security's guidance on essential critical infrastructure workforce. The list includes health services, financial services, supermarkets and restaurants (via delivery or take out), critical services for communities, and industries that are necessary to keep the country's supply chain moving.
You can see the full list on the Department of Homeland Security's website.
It will also include essential services designated in the stay-at-home order issued specifically for Miami-Dade County on Monday. That's an expansive list that also includes many of the services listed in county orders in Orange, Osceola, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
You can read that order on the Florida governor's website.
Other essential services can be added, with the approval of the state coordinating officer, and that list will be available on the Division of Emergency Management and Florida Dept. of Health websites.
It also lists essential activities for Floridians, which includes:
- Participating in recreational activities
- Taking care of pets
- Caring for or assisting a loved one or friend
It also includes "attending religious services" as an essential activity, though it also says "local jurisdictions shall ensure that groups of people greater than 10 are not permitted to congregate in any public space."
The order also supersedes all local orders that conflict with the statewide order.
Hillsborough County made national headlines this week when the sheriff's office arrested the pastor of a large church on charges of holding in-house services without social distancing, violating the county's "Safer-at-Home" order.
DeSantis said he'd talked with President Donald Trump earlier Wednesday about the urgency of stepping up efforts to limit movement to mitigate the spread of the virus.
After federal officials extended the "15 days to stop the spread" to 30 days, DeSantis said an executive order mandating Floridians limit movement "makes sense to make this move now," DeSantis said.
"It's effectively a national pause," he said.
He said Florida would go off of Department of Homeland Security guidelines issued in the past week to determine what will be deemed "essential services," but most nonessential businesses will have to stay closed.
With the extended business closures, DeSantis said the state is anticipating that applications for unemployment compensation will continue to go up.
"It's not easy right now," he said.
With the death toll rising higher each day due to the coronavirus, Trump said during a White House coroanvirus task force briefing Tuesday that the next two weeks will be painful.
“This could be hell of a bad two weeks,” he said during an extremely long news conference on a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
Charter Communications has temporarily opened its live stream free to the public. You can watch Spectrum News via our live stream on your desktop or laptop without a subscription by visiting our website and clicking “Watch Live” in the upper right. Charter also is temporarily offering free broadband and wifi access for 60 days to teachers and families with K-12 or college students. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395. The company also will open more than half a million wifi hotspots across the country.
New numbers show around 800 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday alone in the U.S. The U.S. has the most in the world, with more than 189,000 confirmed since January.
The White House's top infection experts say the final numbers could be anywhere from 100,000 to 230,000 deaths, depending on how people all respond to this pandemic.
During Tuesday night's briefing, the White House coronavirus task force explained that one model shows peak mortality will happen in two weeks.
According to Spectrum News's partner newspaper The Tampa Bay Times, scientists behind another model are predicting that Florida will see the number of cases peak in early May and those numbers are expected to overwhelm the hospitals within the state.
In Florida, there are now more than 6,700 cases.
During the news conference, the president claimed that from the start he took the coronavirus seriously, alleging that people told him to “just ride it out and think of it as the flu.” But he said COVID-19 is not the flu and it is vicious.
This is a turnaround where he did say the virus was like the flu and downplayed the coronavirus many times, including a tweet from early March.
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
The Florida Department of Health stated it is not tracking how many people have recovered from the virus at this point.
Meanwhile, dozens of sailors are now infected with COVID-19 on board the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.
In a memo, the captain stated that a "decisive action is required" though no one is yet hospitalized. The Roosevelt, which is currently docked in Guam, is part of the Pacific Fleet.
One Navy officer says more than 70 sailors are sick and expects the number to rise. At last check, more than 700 members of the U.S. military overall have tested positive for coronavirus.
The first military death from the virus was announced on Monday.
Meanwhile, Italy may see some light on the horizon. The country, hard hit by the coronavirus with more than 101,000 confirmed cases, is seeing a slowdown.
The Italian Civil Protection Agency also reports the number of people being admitted to intensive care units for the coronavirus is just a third of what it was five days ago. Also, the number of patients being hospitalized is also down by a third in that same time period.
Still, the country has one of the highest death tolls.